As We Descend toward Winter…

Today, June 20, 2021, at 11:31 PM, we will begin the long descent into winter by reaching the summer solstice. The longest day—actually the longest period of sunlight—will end, and the days will grow shorter.

While this extended period of sunlight and our position riding on this earth in the northern hemisphere will bring us warmer, sometimes scorching days of summer heat, the inevitable progression of the earth’s axis tilting away from the sun will drive us inexorably toward winter darkness.

For those of us in New England, our weather within each season is as variable as it is throughout the year. The first hints of Fall coolness are often interspersed with almost summer-like warmth. Still, they inevitably yield to frosty nights, cold-desiccated gardens, and falling leaves—a sort of technicolor version of a snowstorm.

The progression toward howling blizzards, bone-chilling wind, and the palette of summer color replaced by the white- gray hazy shade of winter soon dominates the scene outside our windows.

Sitting outside, fishing in a stream, walking on a beach, or hiking a mountain path bathed in the summer’s warmth are such pleasurable, if fleeting, moments. It would serve us well to embrace them.

Seasons change with the scenery;
Weaving time in a tapestry.
Won’t you stop and remember me
Look around,
Leaves are brown,
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter.

Hazy Shade of Winter, Paul Simon

The progression of the sun through the seasons has always fascinated me, even as a young boy. In winter, I always noticed the sun would be far to the left of a large tree in the woods behind my house. Magically it would seem to the six-year-old me, I would see it move first behind the tree, as winter faded and spring arrived, then appear again to the right of the tree, marking the start of summer.

Through the fortunes of birth and my growing up in Cumberland, RI, the window of my room always caught the first rays of the summer solstice and the last rays of the autumn equinox—when the day and night were of equal length.

In the summer, the sun’s rays would wake me in the morning, inviting me to another day of freedom. As summer faded, the sun would disappear from the window, first hidden behind the tree through the first days of autumn, then move, so I had to look out the window to see it.

While the two solstices and equinoxes mark the passing of time—each event deducting from whatever allocation we might have—they are also comforting. I may complain about the winter, yet truth be told, I think I would miss never seeing it again. While living in a winter-free part of the world has its attractions, I sometimes enjoy sitting in a warm house looking out on a blustery New England winter storm. Knowing, even if I cannot see it, the sun is working its way back toward summer while I look forward to seeing it.


JEBWizard Publishing ( is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at or 401-533-3988.

A Place in the Sun

Like a long lonely stream
I keep runnin’ towards a dream
Movin’ on, movin’ on
Like a branch on a tree
I keep reachin’ to be free
Movin’ on, movin’ on
‘Cause there’s a place in the sun
Where there’s hope for ev’ryone
Where my poor restless heart’s gotta run
There’s a place in the sun
And before my life is done
Got to find me a place in the sun

Stevie Wonder, A Place in the Sun
beach during sunset
Photo by Bella White on

Finally, after what seems like a year that lasted a decade, we have enjoyed the first hints of warmer weather.  Our normal winter isolation, compounded by the draconian—but necessary—restrictions of the pandemic, seemed never ending.

But hope springs eternal and I have enjoyed those first glorious moments when one can sit back in a chair, close your eyes, and just feel the warmth of the sun massage away those winter blues.

At these moments—eyes closed, the orange-red-yellow patterns of light through my eyelids dancing before me, the warmth soaking in—I am brought back to the many similar past moments in the sun.

Days when the end of the school year came in sight with its promise of long, care-free summer days at our leisure. Or, as we migrated through the different stages of life, times spent at the beach—courtesy of the freedoms of a car and part time job—where we would gather whenever time allowed.

Long walks along Scarborough Beach in Rhode Island or Horseneck Beach in Massachusetts where sunscreen was for sissies and we wore our sunburnt skin like a badge of honor.

Or solitary moments, fishing pole in hand, standing on the shores of a lake or in a trout stream where, as long as the sun was on you, catching fish was a bonus not the goal.

It is these fleeting moments that often make the most lasting memories and illuminate a host of others.

It is also something we need to embrace with every opportunity for like the relentless continuity of time, clouds will come and cover the sun, robbing us of its comfort.  As long as we understand these dark moments are temporary, that they too will pass, we will be fine.

But we also must remember those warm moments in the sun are equally fleeting.

Next time you find yourself standing in a bright sun, take a moment, close your eyes, and absorb that warmth…find your place in the sun.


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A Summer Vacation’s Worth of Stories

This time of year—scorching humid days, once verdant green Spring grass turned brown and coarse, evening fireflies sparking the imagination—always makes me think of summer vacations long ago. Not those taken for a week or two, but the real summer vacation that punctuated our progress in life.

The opening days of Summer—those first glorious days of not having to get up for school, the freedom of having an entire day to do whatever we wanted, the seemingly endless days ahead—made such a powerful impression in our memories.

See you in September

See you when the summer’s through

Here we are (bye, baby, goodbye)

Saying goodbye at the station (bye, baby, goodbye)

Summer vacation (bye, baby bye, baby)

Is taking you away (bye, baby, goodbye)

The Happenings, See you in september

Then, as June slipped into July and July to August, the first thoughts of returning to school bubbled to the surface. A new grade, new challenges, new teachers, new things to learn, and experience. I may not have looked forward to the end of the summer, but I looked forward to returning to school.

For me it was Ashton School, then Highland Middle, and finally Cumberland High School, CHS ’74.

We had something with us when we ventured back that’s denied today’s generations. Something that made our return both comforting and exciting.

We had stories.

Summer stories to tell our friends in the long tradition of human storytelling. In the telling of the stories, we reinforced (and often enhanced) the memories, ensuring they would last a lifetime.

Today, every moment of every day—tweeted, texted, Instagrammed, Facebooked, or Instant messaged—becomes the same as all the others.

In telling our stories, we had to recall from memory those moments that mattered to us. The things that made enough of an impression on an eight-year-old or a fourteen-year-old to warrant a story.

They would lose their magic in a mere text message.

The stories we told came from the heart—enhanced by our imagination—and created a bond between the storyteller and the listener. It was a way of saying, “you’re important to me, I want you to hear my stories, and I want to hear yours.”

We cannot share such a bond in an email or text. The immediacy of such technology robs the story of all emotion and value.  It is just another bit of noise in a noisy world, lost among the cacophony, becoming only more background static.

August is when these thoughts and memories rise to the surface. Back then, it seemed the dog days of summer grew shorter, even if we knew that the days had grown shorter almost from the moment summer vacation began.

The sun, making its way back south, posed new challenges to baseball games. Early summer sunlit ball fields now became danger zones as fly balls disappeared into the blinding August afternoon sun and caromed off a player’s head. (Something which we might turn into a great story.)

Now, we were not without our means of instant communication. We had telephones, and the sound of a ringing phone brought anticipation, hope, and surprises. We often planned calls—I’ll call you at 6—and battles would ensue if the phone was in use.

We faced the frustrations of a busy signal or an unanswered call. Answering machines—those first links in the chain bonding us to communication technology—came later. But when a call went through, we had those glorious moments of speaking with someone we likely hadn’t seen since the last day of school. In these calls, we laid the groundwork for future stories—I’ll tell you more later, I have to hang up now.

Until we hit that magic age of driver’s licenses and the freedom it brought, all we had on returning to school was our summer stories.

If I could give anything of value to today’s world, it would be moments like those I shared with my friends telling those stories.


JEBWizard Publishing ( is a hybrid publishing company focusing on new and emerging authors. We offer a full range of customized publishing services.

Everyone has a story to tell, let us help you share it with the world. We turn publishing dreams into a reality. For more information and manuscript submission guidelines contact us at or 401-533-3988.

Signup here for our mailing list for information on all upcoming releases, book signings, and media appearances.

Diluting the Joy of Memory

There was a time when having one’s picture taken required planning and someone with skill. After staging the subject and composing the shot, one sat still as the photographer took the picture.

Depending on the location the group broke up, waited for the flash effect to fade, then waited for the picture to be developed. Viewing the image required patience. It could be days or even weeks before one saw the results.

I often go for long walks in Cumberland. Along Mendon Road, I pass a faded sign for Rowbottom studios. Mr. Rowbottom was the official school photographer throughout my grammar school days. If you look up patience in the dictionary I would bet his picture is there.

I have vague memories of being forced to wear nice clothes, meaning ones without patches on the knees from our schoolyard basketball games, sometimes even a dreaded tie on the day set for school pictures.

All day in my least comfortable clothes waiting to be summoned for my turn to follow the instructions on where and how to sit, to smile, to “hold that pose” until Mr. Rowbottom was satisfied with the result.

Several weeks later, an envelope would be passed out in school containing the pictures. They thrilled my mother, I looked and shrugged. “Yeah, they’re nice. Can I go play baseball now?”

I wish I had been more appreciative for her. The joy of those captured moments of a young boy all too soon grown is a precious thing.

It’s all different today. More pictures are taken in one day today than in perhaps all of the time between the first photograph and the invention of digital imaging. There are probably more pictures of cats taken in one day than there were of all the students at Ashton School all those years ago.

My daughter has more pictures of her dogs than the population of North America.

The joy of those photographs diluted by technology. No one waits for a picture to appear anymore. No kid has to sit through a session with a skilled photographer to capture the stages of their lives. Today, every moment is memorialized; robbing it of its uniqueness.

No one has to remember what went on. They merely flick through some screens and there it is.

A friend posted a picture on-line the other day. You see, I appreciate that some technology is useful. Here’s the picture,


This is one of the few pictures taken that day. Some parents may have shot pictures during the game but I’ve never seen them. The picture captures a moment in each of those lives frozen in time. 1968 Cumberland-Lincoln Boys Club Champion Tigers in Cumberland Rhode Island.

There’s no video, no Facebook page, no online archive of thousands of images of each moment of that day. Just this single image of seventeen proud and happy boys celebrating a memorable summer day.

The picture helps me remember that day. Remember those moments of a more innocent time. It reminds me to refresh those memories every once in a while. Anything more than that dilutes the magic.